Vegan burger by Gaz Oakley

Comfort Eating Vegan Style with Gaz Oakley

The vegan lifestyle is big business, but for many out there it’s a way of life, not some fad marketing tool, or a different way to spend your January. It’s a commitment to an ethos that some may see as missing out on some of the tastier things in life, well that thinking is about to change. Step forward the “Avant-Garde” vegan Gaz Oakely. His book Vegan 100, out tomorrow, shows just how to whip up comfort food that will blow your former favourite fast food joint out of the water. Here are just three of the many delicious vegan recipes Gaz has conjured up, that’ll have even the most hardened carnivore salivating. Bon appétit.

“FISH & CHIPS” WITH TARTARE SAUCE & MUSHY MINTED PEAS

Credit: Simon Smith

When my “veganized” version of this British classic went viral on YouTube, lots of people found my channel from this video! It’s a great treat and will fool any of your non-vegan friends. – Gaz

SERVES 4–5

For the chips:
5 medium Maris Piper potatoes
2 tbsp plain (all-purpose) flour
4 tbsp olive oil
pinch sea salt and pepper

For the “fish”:
approximately 1 litre (4 cups) sunflower oil
1 x 400-g (14-oz) firm block of tofu, drained and excess water removed
1 large (20 x 18-cm/8 x 7-inch) sheet of nori
juice of 1 lemon
50g (1/4 cup) plain
(all-purpose) flour
50g (1/4 cup) cornflour (cornstarch)
75ml (1/3 cup) vegan beer
75ml (1/3 cup) soda water
pinch sea salt

For the mushy minted peas:
olive oil, for frying
2 shallots, finely chopped
300g (2 cups) frozen peas
235ml (1 cup) Vegetable Stock (see page 31 of book)
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
pinch salt and pepper

For the tartare sauce:
250g (1 cup) “Mayonnaise” (see page 24 of book)
3 tbsp capers, drained and roughly chopped
3 tbsp roughly chopped gherkins
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
pinch sea salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 180˚C (350˚F) and line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper.

First prepare your chips: wash and slice the potatoes into chip shapes of your choice. I like chunky chips and I also leave the skin on but it’s up to you if you want to peel them or not.

Cover the chips with water in a large saucepan, add a pinch of salt, then place over a medium heat.

Bring to the boil, boil for 2 minutes, then drain. Par-boiling the chips helps create a super-soft inside – I highly recommend doing this if you like your chips chunky.

Spread the par-boiled chips on the baking tray and sprinkle with the plain flour, making sure each chip is lightly covered. Drizzle over the olive oil and season with salt and pepper, then bake for around 25–30 minutes, or until golden and crispy.

While your chips are cooking, it’s time to make the “fish” element.

Pour the sunflower oil into a large saucepan set over a medium heat, or a deep-fat fryer set to 180˚C (350˚F). If using a saucepan, only half fill it to prevent it overflowing when you put the tofu in. Cut the tofu block into rectangles or fillet shapes. Using scissors, cut the nori sheet into pieces the same shape and size as the tofu fillets. The nori resembles fish skin and also has a great taste-of-the-sea flavour.

Lay the nori onto the tofu and squeeze over some of the lemon juice to help it stick. Set aside while you quickly whisk up your beer batter. Combine the flours and salt in a mixing bowl, then pour in the beer and water. Mix together with a wooden spoon until it forms a thick batter. Set aside to rest for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, make the mushy minted peas. Saute the shallots in a saucepan with a little olive oil, until soft. Add the peas, stock and lemon juice, and cook over a medium heat until piping hot. Use a hand stick blender to blitz until mushy, then stir in the mint and a pinch of seasoning. Keep warm until ready to serve. Combine all the ingredients for the tartare sauce in a mixing bowl, then set aside until ready to serve.

At this point your oil should be hot enough to cook the tofu. You should be able to see a light haze coming off the top of the oil in the saucepan but, to be sure, drop a cube of bread into the oil – if it floats to the top quickly and turns golden, your oil is hot enough. Dip each piece of nori-lined tofu into the batter individually and then lower into the oil very carefully.

Cook until the batter is golden, for approximately 4 minutes, then transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper to drain off excess oil. Sprinkle with salt. Remove the chips from the oven, serve with the tofu fish, mushy peas and tartare sauce.

 

KENTUCKY FRIED CHICK’N

Credit: Simon Smith

These seitan chick’n pieces are tender as hell! I coat them in a wonderful spicy batter that will rival any. They become super-crispy if fried but you can also bake them. If you are short of time you can also use the same batter technique with cauliflower florets. – Gaz

SERVES 4

For the chick’n – wet:
170g (1 cup) firm tofu
120ml (1/2 cup) soy milk
1 tsp miso paste
1 tsp dried tarragon
1 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp sea salt

For the chick’n – dry:
115g (1 cup) seitan (vital wheat gluten)
25g (1/4 cup) chickpea (gram) flour

For the broth:
1 litre (4 cups) Vegetable Stock (see page 31 of book)
1 sprig fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 onion, quartered
pinch sea salt and pepper

For the Kentucky coating:
120g (1 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
60g (1 cup) panko breadcrumbs
2 tbsp unrefined caster (superfine) sugar
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp cracked black pepper
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp dried chilli flakes
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp dried sage
1 tsp ground allspice

For the batter:
100g (1 cup) chickpea (gram) flour
240ml (1 cup) water
1 litre (4 cups) vegetable oil, for frying

If you’re using a deep-fat fryer, set it to 180˚C (350˚F). Alternatively, pour the oil into a large saucepan but don’t fill it more than half full. To test if the oil is hot enough in the saucepan, drop a cube of bread into the oil – if it floats to the top straight away, the oil is ready. Carefully fry the chick’n pieces for 3–4 minutes, or until golden and crisp. If you’d prefer to bake the chick’n pieces, bake for 25 minutes in an oven set at 180˚C (350˚F).

Once cooked, transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper to soak up any excess oil. Serve immediately. First up, you will need to make the chick’n pieces.

Combine all the wet ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth. Put the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Add the wet mix to the bowl and stir until the mixture forms a dough. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface lightly floured with chickpea flour. Knead the dough for at least 8 minutes. This is the most important part of the recipe. If you don’t knead it properly, you will be left with horrible, spongy seitan (I have gone as far as pounding the seitan dough with my fists!).

Once kneaded, the dough will be quite firm and elastic. Form it into a rectangle around 1cm (3/8 inch) thick and cut it into 4. Set aside to rest for 10 minutes whilst you prepare the cooking broth.

Add all the broth ingredients to a large, lidded saucepan and bring to a boil, then turn the heat down so that the broth is just lightly simmering. Add the seitan pieces to the broth and pop the lid on. Simmer the seitan pieces for 35 minutes in the simmering broth (do not let it boil). Flip the seitan pieces over halfway through cooking.

After the 35 minutes, remove the seitan pieces from the broth and set aside to cool. They should have almost doubled in size and feel quite meaty. Once cool, tear or cut them into smaller pieces ready to be covered in the Kentucky coating. I like to tear the pieces as this creates rough edges for the coating to cling on to. For the Kentucky coating, stir all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl.

For the batter, mix the chickpea flour and water together in a separate bowl. Now it’s time to individually dip the seitan pieces – first into the chickpea batter then into the coating. I double dip them to make sure they have a nice thick coating. Once you’ve coated all of the pieces, put them on a plate in the fridge while you heat the oil.

 

“MAC & CHEESE” WITH COCONUT “BACON” BITS

Credit: Simon Smith

A classic that I had to veganize, this is so creamy and moreish, you won’t believe it. The coconut bits are smoky and have an incredible maple “bacon” flavour. They also add a great texture. – Gaz

SERVES 4

250g (2 cups) macaroni (or gluten-free pasta)
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 leek, washed and finely chopped
50g (1/2 cup) almonds
300ml (21/2 cups) almond Milk
1 tbsp English mustard
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 x 400-ml (14-oz) can coconut milk
5 tbsp nutritional yeast
salt and pepper

For the coconut “bacon”:
80g (1 cup) coconut flakes
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp liquid smoke
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp coconut oil

Preheat the oven to 180˚C (350˚F) and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

First make the coconut bacon: stir all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Once all the coconut flakes are well coated, spread out over the lined baking tray. Bake in the oven for 10–15 minutes until golden and crisp. Check the coconut a couple of times and give it a stir during cooking as it can easily burn.

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the macaroni for 8–10 minutes, until al dente.

Blanch the cauliflower florets in boiling water for 3 minutes, then drain.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, add a small amount of oil before sauteing the onion, garlic, leek and blanched cauliflower. Cook over a low heat, stirring often.

Blend the almonds and almond milk until smooth, then add to the pan containing the onion mixture to make a sauce.

Drain the pasta and set aside. Add the mustard, paprika and thyme to the sauce, giving it a stir before adding the cooked pasta.

Add the coconut milk, yeast and a pinch of salt and pepper before cooking for a further 1–2 minutes over a low heat, until it is thick and creamy. Serve immediately, garnishing with a pinch of paprika and the crispy vegan friendly coconut bacon bits.

VEGAN 100: Over 100 incredible recipes from Avant-Grade Vegan Gas Oakley (Quadrille, £20.00) is available to buy HERE

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